The auction house outperformed estimates thanks to emerging artists and achieved its highest Hong Kong sale to date.
Yoshitomo Nara, Missing in Action, 2000. Courtesy of PhillipsPhillips once again cemented its strength in the emerging artist market this week, holding two successful auctions in Hong Kong that both easily outperformed their estimates and established the Asian location as its leading sales spot year to date. The auctions largely displayed continuing strength for ongoing trending artists, registering five new personal records and some meaningful top performances as well. The 20th Century & Contemporary Art sale on June 08 totaled $62.9 million (including premiums), nearly doubling its $32.1 million mid-estimate (excluding premiums and the top lot which didn’t carry an official estimate). A total of 37 had been announced to go on offer, but two lots were withdrawn ahead of time. All the other 35 lots sold — 27 above estimate — technically making it a white-glove sale. Yoshitomo Nara claimed the top spot, alongside two other successful lots. His Missing in Action, 2000, came without an estimate and sold for $15.8 million — just edging past his $15.3 million April sale of Berlin Barack, Room 1, 2007 — becoming Nara’s second highest auction performance. His record stems from his breakout year 2019, when Knife Behind Back, 2000, went for almost $25 million. That year, the Japanese artist’s cheeky girls achieved a total $94.6 million after having averaged $28 million during the previous five years. Shallow Puddles Part 2, 2006, and Missing in Action 2, 2002, which also sold at Phillips for $1.2 million and $898,332, respectively, brought his current yearly figure to $76.2 million, making it look like Nara is likely to break his 2019 total and his paintings will continue to appreciate.
Change in Total Sales, # of Lots Offered and Sold: Yoshitomo NaraGerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild (940-7), 2015, didn't manage to impress, selling for $12.2 million, just above estimate when adding buyer's premium. In third place, however, we saw another almost-record: Matthew Wong's Figure in a Night Landscape, 2017, was estimated to fetch $767,149 - $1,022,866 but climbed to a final $4.7 million, just short of his December record of $4.8 million, and continuing his unbelievable run.
Matthew Wong, Figure in a Night Landscape, 2017. Courtesy of PhillipsSomewhat disappointing, Banksy’s Laugh Now Panel A, 2002, came in near its low estimate, at $3.1 million. Its weak performance was especially interesting because Phillips hailed it as the first ever auction lot to be sold in Asia that could be paid for in cryptocurrency. Although the location doesn’t really play a role in that aspect, the auction house tried to squeeze some marketing value out of it, but to no avail. Hopes for the work must certainly have been high, As Sotheby’s had sold Love is in the Air, 2005, in its marquee sale a month ago in the actual first instance of a cryptocurrency sale, and it outdid a $3 million - $5 million with a final price of $12.9 million. Given last night’s performance, however, the price might have had more to do with the art that was being sold than the offered payment method. Further experiments on that front are sure to come sooner than later.
Emily Mae Smith, Broom Life, 2014. Courtesy of PhillipsFinally, the new records: Emily Mae Smith and Loie Hollowell have both made waves over the last months with strong sales, and they both breached the million-dollar threshold now. The latter, who paints geometric abstraction, had just established a new record of $559,380 at Christie’s Hong Kong two weeks ago, and now almost tripled that figure, her First Contact, 2018 selling for $1.4 million, over six times its estimate. Smith’s figurative surrealism has more recently gained her a following, and her Broom Life, 2014, knocked it out of the park, the low estimate of $51,1143 - $76,715 proving ridiculous as it ended up selling for $1.6 million — the strongest result-estimate ratio of any lot this year. Salman Toor continued establishing records slightly higher than his previous one, his Girl with Driver, 2013 selling for $882,861, edging just above his May record of $867,000. The less-known British Jadé Fadojutimi first sold for six figures last December, and now almost doubled that record. Her Concealment: An essential generated by the lack of shade, 2019, fetched $724,956, while the French Bernard Frize is less of a newcomer as his art has appeared at auction for almost 20 years, but he, too, achieved a new record with Toky, 2018, which sold for $338,313, some $65,000 more than his previous record, established last December at Phillips Hong Kong as well.
Kohei Nawa, PixCell-Deer #40, 2015. Courtesy of PhillipsOther emerging artist, whose performance were far more interesting than those of mid-valued lots of Pablo Picasso, Ed Ruscha or George Condo, continued outperforming purposely low estimates, among them Kohei Nawa, whose embellished deer renderings obtained him a new record two weeks ago and brought him a good performance last night as well, and Tschabalala Self, Lucas Arruda and Joel Messler. Through the two sales, Phillips registered almost $90 million, the highest total Phillips achieved in Asia, and the demand for emerging artists continues to deliver strong performance for the third strongest auction house, which alongside any reasonable strategist, is putting more and more focus on the Asian market. Source